Updated: Mar 12
This post will discuss the various dining options for your wedding. Before getting into it, you should know that I have a very passionate relationship with food, and this is not a matter I take lightly. I strongly believe that only a total asshole would deprioritize food when planning an event of any kind, especially a wedding. I would never forgive anyone for keeping me from appropriate amounts of food - even at a funeral. Now, in my personal opinion, the funnest weddings in the universe consist of apps (appetizers), ‘zerts (desserts), and late night finger food. The most traditional weddings consist of cocktail-hour hors d'oeuvre and a previously-selected, plated meal. A happy medium would be family style dining or a buffet. Obviously, there are pros and cons to each; but no matter what you decide, late night snacks/finger foods are a MUST. Again, don’t be an asshole. Apps & ‘Zerts
It’s fun, edgy, and unique. It just is.
If you are only doing appetizers and desserts, it’s easy to have a large variety with something for everyone.
You may think that skipping the main meal would be a cheap alternative, but hors d'oeuvre can get costly. In fact, my husband and I looked into an apps and ‘zerts menu, and the cost was much larger than that of a buffet. Not to mention that wedding venues and/or carters don’t typically have this option priced-out.
There is no formal dinner hour! It usually takes people a while to get up and move after a formal dinner, especially if the bar is closed during that time. The Apps and ‘zerts concept eliminates that issue, allowing you to maximize your DJ/band, photo booth, photographers, and other vendors. As great as that all may sound, keep in mind that eliminating the formal dinner hour may also equate to a higher bar tab per person, since the bar will likely be available to guests from start to finish.
This is, by far, the option with the least waste. When everyone’s dinner option is decided in advance, the kitchen will make just enough of each. Though the caterer/kitchen may have some type of algorithm to reduce waste, it certainly isn’t a low waste option.
Plated meals look elegant and traditional. The kitchen should execute these dishes with care, including the flower at the corner of the plate you’ve never noticed before. You will not find garnishings of this caliber in any of the other dining options.
It’s the most handicap accessible. Elderly guests, and those with handicaps, will be grateful to stay in their seat and be served.
Predetermined meals are easy for those with dietary restrictions. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free guests won’t need to feel anxious about the food, nor will they need to ask the servers 50+ questions before digging in. Not to mention your psychopathic keto/paleo friends can get mentally prepared for an evening with bread.
You can close down the bar for an hour to diminish cost (this goes for buffets and family-style meals as well).
It’s faster. Tables can be pre-set with bread and salads before the guests get into the reception room; and serving the main course is often faster than getting everything through a buffet line.
The most obvious benefit to buffets is the seemingly endless quantity and options. Unfortunately, a vast majority of guests won’t go up for seconds even if they want to! They either think it’s rude, over-indulgent, bad etiquette, or any other number of things.
It’s a very high anxiety experience.
The heifer-complex is real with buffets. Have you ever been upset that the server in the buffet line didn’t give you enough? So you just stare at them hoping they will read your mind and scoop you more mashed potatoes without it becoming a thing? That would be great. It’s important to note that some buffets are self-serve while others come with helpful hands at each station. Self-serve is extra COVID-y right now.
Having the guest in front of you get the last scoop of mac-n-cheese is a nightmare. Your guest doesn’t want to hold up the line waiting for the new tray to arrive, so he/she just pretends they don’t care. But they actually do care! Who wouldn’t? This is America.
Being at table 15 is bad enough without calling attention to it. Watching 100 people go up to the buffet line before you, because you are just that unimportant, is tough. To make matters worse, you’re 100% drooling on yourself by this point.
The buffet line could be taking up dance floor space, and even if it gets taken down pretty efficiently, it isn’t magic.
All those buffet options come with a cost. It’s often more expensive than the predetermined plated options.
Family-style is kind of the best of both worlds. It is the variety of the buffet without the anxiety, because all the options are brought right to your table. If you are anxious about how much you want to eat, you at least only have to deal with a single table shaming you, instead of an entire wedding.
It’s a tight squeeze to have your centerpieces, individual plate settings, and family style food all at the same small table. Make sure your tables and set-up can handle all that.
This is definitely the least COVID and cross-contamination friendly, for obvious reasons.
The cost is typically less than a buffet, but more than a plated meal.
Most importantly, people don’t always get it. Family style ordering and dining in American culture is mainly reserved for the home. People can, and will, probably, attempt to eat directly from the shared dish instead of putting their food on their own plate.
Photo Credit from top to bottom, left to right: KR Photography, Vanessa Lewis Photography, Karen Kelly Photography, Metzger Studios, Kaleidoscope Event Planning, Sweet Lady Jane, and Zev Fisher Photography,
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